Obama first sitting US President to visit Laos

Vientiane, Sep 6 (IANS) Barack Obama, who became the first sitting US President to visit Laos, arrived here on Monday to attend a series of Asian summit meetings this week.

The landlocked country of 6.8 million people may be the final Asian stop during Obama’s presidency, USA Today reported.

Obama who arrived here after attending the Group of 20 summit in China’s Hangzhou city, plans to push for closer economic ties with Laos and Southeast Asia, and raise human rights abuses in the one-party communist state, which suppresses freedom of expression and the media.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, before he flew to Laos on Monday for the summit, warned Obama not to question him about extrajudicial killings — more than 2,000 suspected drug dealers and users who have been killed since he launched a war on drugs after taking office two months ago.

Duterte said Obama must not throw questions at him, or else, “son of a bitch, I will swear at you in that forum”.

“Clearly he’s a colorful guy,” Obama said in China when asked about Duterte’s comment.

Obama said he asked his staff to determine if meeting with Duterte while in Laos would still be productive.

The White House announced later on Monday that there will be no meeting.

However, Duterte later said in a statement that both he and Obama mutually agreed to postpone the meeting, according to the Philippines TV station ANC-CBN.

“While the immediate cause was my strong comments to certain press questions that elicited concern and distress, we also regret it came across as a personal attack on the US president,” he said.

–IANS

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